How to print from your personal Chromebook without Google Cloud Print

With Google Cloud Print being whisked away into the sunset in just a few weeks on December 31, 2020, many of you have seen the notice plastered at the top of your Chromebook’s print dialogue and have reached out to ask us what your options are going forward into the new year. Google Cloud Print, or GCP, was created during a time when Google needed to act as an intermediary for Chromebook users’ print jobs because many printer manufacturers did not create drivers for Chrome OS due to its lack of widespread usage. Since that has changed so drastically in the past few years, GCP is no longer necessary (even though it will be missed), and most printers work with Chromebooks out of the box with minimal setup.

Google Cloud Print
We loved you 3000 Google Cloud Print

Some important housekeeping

I’ll start by saying upfront that if you’re looking for a tutorial on how to migrate your business or school away from GCP, you should read our other tutorial. Also, if you’re interested in an alternative solution that lets you print over long distances without being within range of your home Wi-Fi, that requires alternate third-party services that we’ll discuss in the near future.

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Also, if you have an HP printer, you can simply buy a USB type-A to B cable from your local Best Buy (Just ask for a printer cable) and plug it in to print! Other brands may work as well, but in my experience, only HP does. This is by far the easiest method for printing on your Chromebook, though the drawback is that your laptop will need to remain tethered to the printer during the process.

Today, I’m going to walk you through the second easiest method – connecting your Chromebook to a wireless printer using your home network and the “CUPS” method. For most Chromebook users, standard wireless printing with CUPS should be a viable replacement for Google Cloud Print (GCP). “CUPS” or Common Unix Print Service allows you to print 1 or 2-sided pages in black and white or color, set up advanced printing attributes like stapling, paper trays, and even PIN-code printing management. Basically, it’s what you’ve likely always used before GCP without even realizing it.

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I’m going to be very specific with today’s tutorial to reduce confusion, so If you just want the cliff notes of the talk, I’ll recommend Google’s excellent step-by-step visual simulator by Partnerdash found below. It was one of the many tools I had in my belt for my customers in the retail space as a Chromebook Expert and it’s very well done. If you’re still having trouble after following their steps, you can refer back to this article for a few important notes on things I’ve encountered over the past 3 years.

Launch Interactive Tutorial

Removing your GCP printer

“Okay, Michael, I don’t care if I use CUPS or bowls to print, just tell me how to do it!” I hear you – let’s get started. In order to get printing on your Chromebook, you’ll need to visit the Printers section of the Settings app. To get there, all you need to do is tap your ‘Everything button‘ and search for it. Next – and this is very important – let’s remove your GCP printer from the list of available printers on your device. You may need to remove it from the Google Cloud Print web interface, but removing it locally should suffice for now. Since you no longer need it (nor can you use it soon), it reduces confusion later if we just remove it now. Once you’re in the Settings app on your Chromebook, click in the search bar at the top and type in ‘Printing’ to get there. If you see your existing printer listed, tap the three dots next to it and then tap ‘remove’.

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Settings > Printing > Three Dots > Remove (GCP printer if applicable)

Let’s get started

Alright, let’s connect your printer over Wi-Fi instead! Since you’re already in the Printer settings, tap the little icon to the right of ‘Add Printer’. A dialogue box will pop up called ‘Add a nearby printer’. So long as your printer and your Chromebook are connected to the same network, it should appear on this list. If it’s not showing, make sure that both devices are on the same Wi-Fi and try again. If this worked, congratulations! Your printer has been successfully connected to your Chromebook. I recommend you skip down to the ‘Changing your print destination’ section of this article for an important tip. Otherwise, if you continue to have issues, we’re going to connect it using your IP address instead.

Connect Printer and Chromebook to the same wireless network

Settings > Printing > Printer icon > Select Printer from list

Your printer’s IP address is a unique identifier that allows your Chromebook to communicate with it. Think of it this way – Until you know someone’s name, you’ll probably have a hard time addressing them directly. If you say ‘Hey, you!’ many people may look, but if you say ‘Hey, Michael Perrigo!’ then only I will turn my head. It’s a silly but accurate analogy.

Finding your printer’s IP address

To get your printer’s IP address, just go over to the tiny screen on the front of it, tap the cogwheel icon, scroll down to ‘network’, or ‘wireless’. Then, find ‘view wireless details’ or something similar. I’m generalizing because each company buries the address under different verbiage. You can check with HP, Epson, Brother, Canon, or any other manufacturer for step-by-step instructions via a Google search. Once you locate the IP address, it can be printed out or you can scribble it down on a piece of paper (or just memorize it) and head back over to your Chromebook.

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Okay, let’s get back on track. So you tapped the printer icon and are now presented with a dialogue box that is titled ‘Add a printer manually’. Fill out all of the required fields – give your printer a name, enter the IP address you just found (it’s usually 192.168.x.x where the x’s represent numbers unique to your printer), and then click the blue ‘Add’ button at the bottom right. You can leave the Protocol box and Queue as they are.

On the next screen, choose the brand and model of your printer. If your model isn’t listed, just find something as close to it as you can. This just determines whether or not you get some settings unique to your printer in the print preview window later on. Now, click the blue ‘Add’ button at the bottom right again and you’ve successfully added your printer!

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Settings > Printing > Printer icon > Enter name > Enter IP Address > ‘Add’ button

Choose printer manufacturer > choose printer model > ‘Add button

Changing your print destination

Okay, listen up – If you are printing wirelessly for the first time on your Chromebook, you’ll probably find that clicking CTRL+P on a document and choosing the blue ‘Save’ button at the bottom right of the print preview does not send it to your printer! This is very important and I’ve found that many people who continue to have issues do so because they’ve forgotten to change their print destination. To fix this, just choose the first dropdown labeled ‘Destination’ and change it from ‘Save as PDF’ to your printer name. You may need to click ‘See more…’ and then choose your printer from the additional dialogue box that appears.

If you’ve followed all of the steps above, you should have a printed document coming out of your printer as you read this – Congratulations! I know It was long-winded, but I feel it was necessary to cover everything in detail. I hope this can serve as your go-to guide for printing on a Chromebook, especially after Google Cloud Print disappears at the end of this year. If this was helpful, leave a comment and share this with someone you know who may need it. If anything needs to be amended for clarity, let us know! Happy printing!

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